September is World Alzheimer’s Month which raises awareness of those living with dementia. While practical care for those affected is important, it’s also crucial to ensure that a person with dementia has their paperwork in order. Lasting Power of Attorney should be looked at as soon as possible.
World Alzheimer’s Month acknowledges the impact of dementia and how it affects those living with the condition and their carers. Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affect a person’s ability to remember things, make decisions and judgements, and carry out everyday activities. The person affected will gradually deteriorate, needing more help and support as the condition progresses. It’s a devastating condition that eventually results in the person needing 24-hour care. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia.
Unfortunately, dementia is also on the increase. There are around 50 million people worldwide living with dementia according to Alzheimer’s Disease International. The organisation says that someone in the world develops the condition every three seconds and the number of people developing dementia is expected to double every 20 years.
By 2030, 82 million people will most likely be living with dementia. The condition also places a great strain on those caring for a loved one – there are around 540,000 dementia carers in England alone.
Although the focus quite understandably tends to be on ensuring the person diagnosed receives appropriate care, it’s also important to get their paperwork in order early on to protect their finances and health in future.
Contrary to popular belief, it may still be possible to arrange Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for a person who has a dementia diagnosis. A solicitor or legal adviser will need to be satisfied that the person is clear about their intentions and has mental capacity. This means that the person needs to have the ability to make or communicate specific decisions when they need to be made.
If the person doesn’t have the required capacity to sign an LPA, then an application will have to be made to the Court of Protection. This is an expensive and lengthy process, so it’s best avoided by acting quickly. If you or a loved one are in the early stages of dementia, make sure you get your paperwork resolved as soon as possible.
Types of Lasting Power of Attorney
There are two main types of Lasting Power of Attorney – Property & Financial and Health & Welfare. Many people tend to focus on Property & Financial, but Health & Welfare is just as important, albeit for different reasons.
Property & Financial gives the Attorney (the person you choose to manage your affairs in future) the authority to deal with and make decisions about finances which includes investing money, paying the mortgage, paying bills, arranging repairs to the person’s property, collecting pensions and benefits, and selling the person’s home.
Health & Welfare means the Attorney can make decisions about the person’s medical care and where they should live and also make decisions about life-saving treatment.
There are two other types of Power of Attorney. Ordinary Power of Attorney covers decisions about your finances and is suitable for a temporary period of time, such as a hospital stay. It’s only valid while you still have the mental capacity to make decisions.
You may have also heard of Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). This was replaced by Lasting Power of Attorneys in October 2007. However, if you signed an EPA before 1 October 2007, it should still be valid according to Age UK.
You can have more than one Attorney acting on your behalf, but some legal advisers may not recommend it, as this could cause conflict where important decisions are concerned. On the other hand, you may want more than one Attorney in case one person becomes ill or incapacitated.
It’s important to seek legal advice so that you can make the right decision. You need to be completely confident that the person you appoint as your Attorney can be trusted to act entirely in your best interests.
Finally, it’s also important for a person with dementia to make or update their will. Although a complex subject, you may generally make or change your will if you have a dementia diagnosis, so long as you have the capacity to make decisions and are clear on your intentions. Again, it’s best to tackle this as soon as possible and seek professional advice.
Through our trusted business partners, MB Associates can help with Lasting Power of Attorney and making a will. Please contact us for more details.